Archive: March, 2014

Hank Jones with Bill Charlap on Piano Jazz

hankJonesI love when a musician is interviewed by one of his or her peers…it usually gives the interview a slant it wouldn’t ordinarily have. Another musician will often ask questions of their subject that a non-musician wouldn’t necessarily consider because of their shared talents and experience. Here is a great interview in which pianist Bill Charlap, sitting in for regular host Marian McPartland on NPR’s Piano Jazz, interviews the legendary Hank Jones.

In this 2009 session, Jones returns to the program 30 years after his first appearance for a set of tunes spanning his career. “Keep the melody intact,” Jones says flatly. “You can do all kinds of things with the harmonies, but the melody must remain.”

The set list for the show:

  • “Lonely Woman” (Bill Stegmeyer)
  • “We’ll Be Together Again” (Carl Fischer)
  • “Lotus Blossoms” (Billy Strayhorn)
  • “Easy Living” (Ralph Rainger/Leo Robin)
  • “Odd Number” (Hank Jones)
  • “Lord, I Want to Be a Christian” (Traditional)
  • “Sophisticated Lady” (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills/Mitchell Parrish)
  • “Oh, Look at Me Now” (Joe Bushkin/John DeVries)

Click here to listen to Hank Jones with Bill Charlap on Piano Jazz

—Peter Blasevick

Joshua Redman on Ken Burns’ Jazz

joshuaRedmanMany people have issues with the Ken Burns Jazz documentary, but there sure are are some great interviews in it! Here is saxophonist Joshua Redman talking about everything from Miles to Ornette to what the word jazz means. From the interview:

“I care about jazz for the same reason that I care about music. Music is emotion through sound and that’s what jazz is. Jazz is just one form of emotion through sound. I think one of the things that makes jazz so special is that it allows you to convey your emotions in one of the most spontaneous and immediate and direct ways as possible and that’s kind of the special thing about jazz is the improvisational nature of the music, so it’s really representing what you feel and what you’re experiencing at the moment.”

Click here to read Joshua Redman on Ken Burns’ Jazz

—Peter Blasevick

The Jazz Session #76: Steve Kuhn

steveKuhnHappy 76th birthday to the great Steve Kuhn! Jason Crane interviews the pianist for Jason’s great podcast The Jazz Session. Kuhn speaks about his (then) new new album, Mostly Coltrane (ECM, 2009), which pays tribute to John Coltrane, with whom Kuhn worked for several weeks in the early 60s. In the interview, Kuhn talks about Coltrane, the Lenox School of Jazz, his composing methods, and the support he received early on from Bill Evans. He also discusses the sacrifices he made in pursuit of his musical vision.

Click here to listen to The Jazz Session #76: Steve Kuhn

—Peter Blasevick


For Bill Frisell’s 63rd Birthday, A DownBeat Article, An Uncut Blindfold Test, and A Few Other Pieces

billFrisellIn honor of guitar legend Bill Frisell‘s 63rd birthday (March 18), Ted Panken posted his “directors’ cut” (about 1500 words longer) of a DownBeat cover piece he wrote about Bill and his long-standing trio partners Tony Scherr and Kenny Wollesen, during a week in Perugia for the 2008 Umbria Summer Jazz Festival, the uncut proceedings of a Blindfold Test Frisell took with Panken around 2000 or 2001, in his extraordinarily cramped room at the former Earle Hotel on the corner of Waverly Place & MacDougal, on the northwest corner of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Here he discusses John McLaughlin:

“He always blows my brains out.  There was one moment when I went to a Shakti concert, and I almost quit playing the guitar.  I just thought, “Man, this is hopeless.”  But it was a good moment because it made me figure out that I had to figure out something else to do other than that.  I’ll never be able to… But he’s so much more… He’s known for being, you know, fast, but he’s a soulful… And rhythmically and harmonically, so…it’s some far-out stuff he’s doing.  I can’t figure out why people don’t… He’s right in there in that line of… There’s Charlie Christian and Wes Montgomery and Jim and whoever all other guys, and he’s one of those main guys for me.”

Click here to read For Bill Frisell’s 63rd Birthday, A DownBeat Article, An Uncut Blindfold Test, and A Few Other Pieces

—Peter Blasevick

Two part Slide Hampton interview from WXXI Rochester

Trombonist Slide Hampton is a Grammy winner, an NEA Jazz Master, and an all-around living legend. More importantly he is a fantastically gracious and kind man which comes across in this two part interview he did in 2008 for WXXI in Rochester, NY.

—Peter Blasevick

NEA Jazz Masters: Interview with Keith Jarrett

Or 300th post today! Thanx everyone who visits, I hope you find it useful. We are up to around 1000 visits a month now, so, certainly not Facebook, but hopefully helpful and entertaining for jazz lovers!

Here is a quick interview with Keith Jarrett on his receiving the NEA Jazz Masters award in January of this year.

“It’s like my body knows exactly what to do. It’s just like my left hand knows what to play. And if I tell it what to play, I’m stopping it. [Laughs] Not only am I stopping it, but I’m stopping it from playing something better than I can think of!”

—Peter Blasevick

Vinnie Colaiuta: Beyond Black and White

vinnieColaiutaVinnie Colaiuta is one of the busiest and most admired drummers on the planet. Whether with Sting or Allan Holdsworth, Megadeath or Herbie Hancock, he is always a pea sure to listen to. Here he is in a nice 2007 interview with Modern Drummer posted on his own site. From the interview:

MD: Drummers always say, “You have to play for the song.”

VC: First of all, you have to want to play for the song. You have to enjoy doing that. Then you’ll start seeing the musical value and fulfillment in that. You’ll sense it, feel it, and know it. You’ll sense the synergy in it. You won’t even think, “Man, I could have done this really cool lick there.” That is defeatist, non-musical thinking.

Any time you strike the drums you have to be aware that you’re creating a musical event. If you think of it as something more or less technical, you’re thinking reductionistically. If you think, “I have to play the song well,” it can become a chore to develop so people will like you, versus, “I see the value of this and it makes sense.” That’s not to say that you can play anything and use your own criteria to deem it a musical event. There are laws of music. I could sit down and play a drum solo and think, “I will baffle them.”

Click here to read Vinnie Colaiuta: Beyond Black and White

Interview with Joey Alexander

joeyAlexanderHere is a really fun interview sent to me by pianist and teacher Mark Polishook that he did with Joey Alexander, a really gifted young pianist from Indonesia. Well, he’s not young, he’s 10 years old and he’s a prodigy. There are plenty of videos of him on YouTube if you haven’t heard him play, it’s worth the trip. From the interview:

MP: Giant Steps is one of the tunes you like to play. I’m sure you know how important it is in jazz history and I’m sure you know what it represents to jazz musicians. When did you first play it? Is there something in Giant Steps that speaks to you? Does it present any special challenges when you play it?

JA: I first played Giant Steps when I was 8. I know it’s an important tune and I love the progression. And I like John Coltrane’s music very much. It’s always a challenge to play. So I always focus on being simple. Every tune is hard if I want to play it right. [Joey smiles].

Click here to read Interview with Joey Alexander

—Peter Blasevick

The Jazz Session #91: Mike Stern

mikeSternHere is a cool 2009 talk with Mike Stern from Jason Crane’s JazzSession podcast archive. So many great interviews there, check it out.

“Guitarist Mike Stern has played with everyone. And yes, that includes Miles Davis. After decades in the business, he could easily be resting on his laurels. Instead, he’s pushing himself into new territory, as displayed on his CD Big Neighborhood (Heads Up, 2009), which finds him in the company of everyone from Esperanza Spaulding to Randy Brecker to Eric Johnson to Steve Vai. In this interview, Stern talks about why he likes surrounding himself with fresh ideas; his rockin’ side and his lyrical side; and how guitarist Hiram Bullock once blew Michael Brecker’s mind.”

Click here to listen to The Jazz Session #91: Mike Stern